Imagine Impact Debuts at Cannes
Imagine Impact Begins
Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer and Howard are launching another major initiative, one designed to transform good ideas into successes in narrative and documentary film, TV, VR and other platforms. Imagine Impact is a fully funded global content accelerator program that will start in Los Angeles this fall, and branch out to Latin America, United Kingdom, the Middle East and China. It core is an eight-week creative boot camp that will discover new voices and empower content creators and narrative storytellers from around the world.
While Hollywood has shown anxiety over the growing infiltration of Silicon Valley into the entertainment business, Grazer and Howard and their exec Tyler Mitchell modeled the new program after Y Combinator, which grooms aspiring entrepreneurs by incubating their ideas in a boot camp before placing them in front of an auditorium filled with 1000 venture capitalists who invest in the innovative products the VC crowd believes have the most potential for success. Mitchell will oversee Imagine Impact.
Imagine Impact will apply that 8-week boot camp formula to the creative medium. Once upon a time, Grazer had an idea for a romantic comedy where a man meets and falls in love with a mermaid. Not everybody liked the idea. But Grazer persevered, and it became the 1984 hit Splash. It helped Tom Hanks transition from sitcom to movie star. It helped Howard transition from an actor into a director, and it set Grazer on the road to become an A-list producer. It fueled their long running partnership in Imagine. They’ve won Oscars together, and Howard is here on the Croisette, launching the next giant Star Warsfranchise. That is about as good a maximization of a good idea as you’ll find. What if Grazer and Howard had given up when pitching the idea and watching the eye roll of too many executives on the other side of the table?
They want to democratize a difficult entry process they said hasn’t really changed since those early days, one that can be so intimidating and imposing. They want to give the next crop of showrunners and filmmakers a shot by demystifying the process in a two month boot camp process as experts help the Creators nurture the project they will hone during those eight weeks. The potential upside is that Imagine has first look at the projects that are hatched during those eight weeks, and if the company doesn’t make a deal, the Creators are free to shop it elsewhere.
The program is set up this way. The crop of Creators will be chosen from a vetting process that begins with an online application, and those accepted will work with Shapers, a group of best in class screenwriters and showrunners, who’ll meet twice weekly as the Creators hone their ideas into first draft scripts, bibles for franchises, or pilot scripts. They’ll learn to generate quality material on the compressed time schedule that working scribes know all too well.
The pilot program, Impact 1, will begin in Los Angeles in September, and 20 Creators will be chosen to work with five Shapers, industry professionals who’ll each oversee four Creators. They will meet at the Imagine offices, to keep their projects on the path, but they will write on their own. There will be a weekly dinner for all Creators and Shapers, with a keynote speaker.
Those accepted to the program will be paid a weekly salary to keep a roof over their heads and make it possible for them to focus singularly on delivering this potential career-making opportunity in its most polished form. For its part, Imagine Impact won’t own any rights to the material during development. Those rights will be controlled by the Creators, who’ll present their projects to Imagine at the end of the 8-week boot camp. Imagine gets an opportunity for a first look. If the producer doesn’t bite, Creators own their projects free and clear and can shop it all over town. The Shapers will have meaningful upside in the projects they helped hone, the ones that are produced or financed by Imagine. The eventual plan is for the program to run multiple times per year in different countries.
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